March 22, 2018, 8:00 am
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No graceful exit for Alaska Aces

SPURRED on by its own burning desire, Rain or Shine refused to give Alaska a graceful exit last night.

Gaining full steam as the game wore on, the Elasto Painters hacked out a cruising 112-82 victory over the Aces to fan their hopes of making it among the top four in the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

J’Nathan Bullock scored 14 points in less than 25 minutes of action while Beau Belga and Jericho Cruz chipped in 12 points apiece also in limited minutes in a game Rain or Shine dominated from the last three minutes of the first quarter on.

The E-Painters posted their sixth win in 10 games that kept them in the thick of the fight for one of the top four slots which will be rewarded with a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.

“I think we could go as high as No. 3, kasi iyung 1 and 2 wala na. The most we can get is seven wins and iyung iba meron ng ganoon at meron pa silang games,” noted Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia , whose team remained at sixth.

Ginebra, Meralco, TNT and NLEX has seven wins each with San Miguel Beer toting six with two games left to play.

Somewhat dimming the E-Painters’ chances is the fact they lost to the Kings, Beermen, Road Warriors and Bolts but won big over the KaTropa.

No matter what, Garcia said his team still has to win over Blackwater on Saturday and hope that would be enough to keep them within the magic circle.

“Wala naman kaming control sa ibang games,” added Garcia. “We just have to fight to beat Blackwater and see where it takes us.”

Alaska absorbed its eighth loss in 11 games and remained at 10th, a rung lower than its finish in the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup.

Worse, the Aces could drop as low as 11th, depending on the outcomes of GlobalPort’s and Phoenix’s last games. The Batang Pier are toting a 3-7 slate and the Fuel Masters 2-8.

Although it was not apparent at first, the absence of Calvin Abueva, Chris Banchero and Sonny Thoss due to an assortment of injuries took its toll on Alaska, which actually led by as many as 19-12 but could not keep up when Rain or Shine shifted to high gear.

LaDontae Henton led Alaska with 20 points and seven rebounds. The Aces also drew 12 points from skipper Tony dela Cruz, set to retire after the game along with Dondon Hontiveros.  

Hontiveros missed his first seven shots before scoring the game’s last two points off a jumper. 

In contrast, Rain or Shine had a more balanced effort in a game where it led by as much as 98-61 after going on a 15-0 run spanning the last two periods, prompting Garcia to field in the rest of his bench for the mop up job.

Belga and Cruz each finished with 12 points, Don Trollano 11, most in garbage time.
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